interview with a developer: yono and the celestial elephants
Here at The Switch Effect, we have prided ourselves in creating great partnerships with developers, both big and small. The games that they release are truly an incredible feat of art and programming, and we believe that these games deserve to be seen. These partnerships with these incredible people lead us to think…why not let you all get a small glimpse in to what it takes to create these magnificent games? The blood, sweat, and tears over making something that people around the world will cherish for years to come.
Today, we decided to interview Niklas Hallin, creator and developer of Yono and the Celestial Elephants (check out our review). This game comes out tomorrow, October 12, 2017. So, without further ado, let us take a journey in to the mind of Mr. Hallin.
Mer: How are you doing?

Niklas: Great! Also very anxious and nervous…
Mer: Oh? About what?

Niklas: You know, just the upcoming launch…These are strange times.
Mer: These are definitely strange times, but I believe you will do well with your launch. the game is incredible.

Niklas: I do rationally believe that many people will like the game. I just got to keep my cool for a few more days!
Mer: Excellent! Would you mind introducing yourself for our readers?

Niklas: My name is Niklas and I’m from Sweden. I’ve been making a couple of games by myself in the past, and attempted to make games as part of a team, but this is my first really ambitious project, with 3D graphics and several hours of content.
Mer: What lead you to want to be a game developer?

Niklas: Making video games is an activity that takes advantage of a multitude of different disciplines, from art to animation to programming to puzzle design to storytelling. That is super attractive to someone who is interested in all those things. I have a hard time imagining myself focusing on being solely an artist or solely a writer.
Mer: That is really cool and admirable!

Mer: What challenges did you first face when you began the process of development?

Niklas: My background is in art and 3D graphics, and one question was how well I would be able to handle the programming for a more complex game. But because of that I have deliberately designed the game to fit my own coding skills. The real challenge was always if I was going to be able to produce all the content needed all by myself; all the art assets, animations, writing and puzzles. 
It’s all about being really stingy with how much stuff you want to put into your game!
Mer: I can imagine! I definitely envy your ability to do all of that.

Mer: What has been your favorite part of making your new game, Yono and the Celestial Elephants?

Niklas: The best thing I know about making video games is carefully introducing new concepts or mechanics step-by-step. Every time I add a new game mechanic I immediately think about how to show it to the player for the first time. For this reason, the dungeons are my favorite parts to make, because that’s were the game really gets down to brass tacks with introducing and combining various puzzle pieces with every new room you enter.
Mer: It was really exciting to discover new things along the way. I can see how it could be exciting for you to make them!

Mer: Do you mind telling us a little bit about Yono and the Celestial Elephants and how the idea for it came to be?

Niklas: I wanted to make a game where several different types of creatures lived in the same world and had their own cities. In the beginning, I actually tried to base each race off of different school of ancient Greek philosophy, such as the Stoics, Cynics and Platonists. That idea got too complex to go anywhere pretty fast, but a lot of that influence still remains. I ended up with the Humans, Bonewights and Mecani, and I have put a lot of effort in to the history of each people and their relationships with one another.
Mer: Throughout the game-play, you can definitely see the passion you had in doing so.

Mer: If you had any advice to someone who is considering developing a video game, what would it be?

Niklas: Lower you standars, then over-achieve!
The trick is to keep your scope under control and not try and make something that is much too big and complex. Even simple things become really big, really fast. So try and make something humble and small and then go to work to completely smash those humble goals. Yono might seem big and grand now that it’s finished, but it is in fact a very downscaled and streamlined project.
Mer: That is some excellent advice! Thank you so much for taking the time to allow The Switch Effect to interview you!